“You must brush your teeth every morning.”
Mrs. Conrad, the school nurse, made that demand during individual visits to her office the first week when the semester started every fall.
Don’t know if schools have nurses these days, or exactly what Mrs. Conrad’s duties entailed. However, she was official, no question; ghost-white nurse’s dress, white hose, always a starched white nurse’s hat.
While our rural hometown had schools on each side of the river, Mrs. Conrad was at Garfield mornings, and Washington, afternoons.
The nurse wasn’t there during recess when Billy Porter ran into us at first base and split our temple open. Mrs. Orton, third grade teacher, stepped in to get us to the doctor for stitches, but Mrs. Conrad asked how we felt the next morning.
That nurse’s teeth brushing directions six decades ago were followed sometimes. Enough that we don’t have falsies, except the tooth knocked out when the bronc reared over backwards, and a couple of cover-up-ones holding it in.
Today’s dentists have more stringent orders than Mrs. Conrad. While dentist’s chairs have changed a lot over time, they’re one of our least favorite places, do the best to avoid.
When forced to be there, it’s as a wimp, insisting “no pain,” whatever shots required. Grinder vibration is bad enough.
Used to be with once-a-day brushing was once-a-year checkup. Now, “dental hygienists” want us quarterly “for cleaning,” which hurts too, but we resist to just twice annually.
Orders now are “brush at least three times a day, plus every time you eat something, also floss, use toothpicks too, and gargle with that high dollar germ killer, tooth rot stopper.”
Automatic response: “We do well to brush once-a-day, and sometimes miss over the weekend.”
Still, there are those who follow dentist’s orders. Coworkers are sometimes seen brushing teeth in office hallways throughout the day.
Unimaginable to acquaintances, we do have an electric toothbrush. The dentist “gave it” to us, with cost obviously included in the bill. Admittedly, the mechanical device does make our teeth feel good and clean.
Reminds us of Ecclesiastes 12:3: “Teeth will fall out you cannot chew.” So, Job 29:17: “Pluck the spoil out of your teeth.” Then, Song of Solomon 4:2: “Teeth are white, and none of them are missing.” Actually, Genesis 49:12: “The teeth whiter than milk.”